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Acting Out Stories

Storytelling also can take the form of play-acting. Trainers do this very well when they create role-plays and simulations. In role-plays, participants are asked to play roles related to work situations. For example, one participant may play an irate customer, and the other play the customer service representative. In another situation, participants may act out a performance appraisal. In training, it is often insightful to have participants step out of their current roles and assume different roles. In this way, direct reports will get to play at being supervisors, and bosses will assume the role of subordinates. These role-plays, if done correctly, can lead to insights that employees can take back to their workplace and use to function more effectively, as well as more humanely.

Simulations are more elaborate role-plays. They typically involve longer, more detailed play-acting based on an established storyline, usually a case study. Various participants assume the role of members of the organization, such as vice president of finance, vice president of marketing, director of engineering, or middle management functionaries. Simulations can last up to a day, or longer. They may even involve replays if the facilitator provides additional variables that may affect the outcome. Both role-plays and simulations, however, are nothing more than elaborate story-telling exercises. They involve multiple players, as opposed to a single storyteller, but they are stories nonetheless.


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